Turning Junk into Art: Patrick Amiot’s Urban Folk Art


Photo: Kris Bordessa

“Look! A bicycle chain!”

“Oh, that’s an old barbecue!”

We seem to have stepped right into an I Spy book, albeit one that takes recycling to a new level.

“That surfboard’s made out of an ironing board!”


Photo: Kris Bordessa

Let me tell you, this is some excitement. This is the kind of artwork that kids – even young ones – can really get into.

We’re visiting my hometown of Sebastopol, California, making the requisite stop at what is essentially an open air folk art museum. Cooperative neighbors allow artist Patrick Amiot to display what he calls his Urban Folk Art collection on their front lawns.

As we walk up the street, the first thing we notice is the giant caveman. It is an amazing sight, and yet I can’t fathom having something so large and looming in my front yard, no matter how cool it is. My boys disagree, and begin making plans to create a sculpture of their own, calling dibs on our now valuable junk.

With materials that would normally be relegated to the trash pile, Amiot uses a fresh eye to see the possibilities in items such as an old teakettle, tin can lids, and discarded golf clubs. Finished with a bright coat of paint (courtesy of his wife, Brigitte), these pieces depict a slice of American life – a hot rod, manned by a dog; a hula girl; a mermaid. The displays change regularly, so even though we’ve toured this one of a kind display, we always make time for another visit when we’re in town.

Photo: Kris Bordessa

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